Someone asked this question the other day and I thought it was interesting. The person asking is just starting out in the art world, they didn't grow up utilizing art as a theraputic outlet or practicing the skills that artists often take for granted. So let's answer this shall we?
1/ If you are just starting out maybe visual art is not for you. Most artists have started out very young; just about out of diapers, while others (very rare) realize much later in their lives that they are really good at whatever media works for them. Every once in awhile I will hear about someone just starting out and they are good. So it can work both ways.
2/ Are you going to school for this creative job? Artists are 50/50 on this in many instances. For one; if you were already good/great take away tips, tricks, etc from these classes. You don't want the classes themselves to overrun your path and eventually lead to insanity because you realize you have been doing it wrong the whole time, according to the schooling institution. You must continue to practice your craft, you will get better everyday. Even if it is a sketch on a napkin, practice makes perfect. Do not allow schooling to change you too much.
3/ Learn perspective and proportions. Try drawing someone or something upside down - it helps if you take a picture of a person and turn it upside down. The process is commonly known drawing from the right side of the brain. Utilizing this trick can develop many skills and resolve issues dealing w/ proportion, and perspective. Remember the Left cortex of your brain controls the creativity. Allow the Right side of your body to get relaxed so that you can start your work. The Left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa.
4/ study shapes as much as possible. If you are drawing portraits be sure to note what the shape of their face is. Use the crossing points utilizing the grid method.
5/ Try, try again........ We all make errors in our paint work. It keeps us human. Sometimes those errors can lead to innovation and/or fresh ideas, they are certainly learning experiences and sometimes happy accidents.
6/ Displaying/selling your work:
When people ask me how to price work I tell them this:
Labor X Materials = total. Example: 2' x 4' painting + 35 for materials X amount of hours in the studio = amount to sell the artwork for.
7/ Shameless self promotion.
Canvas the web w/ graphics Advertise your self, enter shows etc.